Monday, March 5, 2012

My Experience with Gallery Glass to Paint Faux Stained Glass Windows

     Recently, I was asked to restore two faux stained glass windows for my local Renaissance Faire group, the only product I thought could work is Plaid's Gallery Glass paints.  However, I wanted to keep my options open in case there were other products available that would do a better job.
    These windows were done by some volunteers in the late seventies and early eighties. They are hung in a variety of locations at the renaissance faire site.  The windows were in dire need of some tender care.
Damaged Faux Stained Glass Window
    The paint used to create the original faux stained glass effect was in bad shape.  Here is close up of some of the damage from exposure to the sun and other elements.
close up of damage
The windows themselves are old plexiglass and have been exposed to the bad weather and extreme heat.  There are quite a bit of imperfections in the plexiglass, as well as some breakage.  The paint and faux leading were also peeling off of these pieces.  I also found that over the years, folks had dropped various wall paints on the plexiglass which damaged them even more.

     Additionally, the Tudor Roses on the second window were badly faded and some of the faux leading was peeling right off of that window.

    Since funds were extremely limited I had to find an inexpensive but effective products to fix them with.  I decided my best bet was to go to my local art supply store and Michael's to see what they had available on their shelves.  I found two products, one was  the Plaid Gallery Glass window color
and the other was Folk Art Glass Enamels.  The Michael's store had two other glass painting products but their prices were on the high side for the amount of product I would need to fix all the windows.
Folk Art Enamels for ceramics and glass painting.
Since I already had a sampling of the enamels (see above), I choose to buy some of the "Gallery Glass" products to test out.
Gallery Glass for painting on clear surfaces.

     The first test was to use the two product lines on a spare piece of plexiglass to see how the products would work on plexiglass, before I applied them to the windows.  I also did a side by side comparison of the two products so I could see how the colors would look on the plexiglass.

      On the left hand side of the plexiglass is the Folk Art Enamels products and on the right is the Gallery Glass product.  As you can see, the Gallery Glass colors look very smooth and vibrant in comparison to the Folk Art Enamels.  I think this is because the Folk art enamels are very thick and need to be applied in layers to get a similar coverage as the Gallery Glass product.  Plus, you can really see all the strokes from the paint brush on the plexiglass.  The gallery glass product was applied once and appears to be self leveling which is very helpful when you have uneven surfaces to work with. Applying the Gallery Glass product onto glass or plexiglass is so simple.  Just squeeze the product onto the surface and let it dry.

 Since, the plexiglass on the windows is quite old and pitted, ease of application is a big plus that would be very helpful.
     The second test was to see how translucent and/or opaque each product was when holding it up to a light source.
    The first example is the "Folk Art Enamels" which I painted onto a piece of glass. I decided to test the enamels on the glass to see if that made a difference in how the paint is applied.  The enamels still showed all of the paint strokes and seem to magnify imperfections on the glass and plexiglass.
Folk Art Enamels painted on glass.
The Gallery Glass product looks great on the plexiglass and easily covers the surface imperfections (which in this case included old dried on paint, scratches, pits and more).
Gallery Glass on Plexiglass
I also think the since the Gallery Glass is so translucent it also makes the colors a bit more vibrant.
     There was quite a bit of light reflected through the window (onto the sidewalk and grass) that was painted with the Gallery Glass product.
Example of how much light and color are reflected through the window painted with Gallery Glass.
     Before I started to paint the windows, I had to clean and lightly sand the plexiglass with a special polish to fill in small cracks and scratches.  I could not remove all of the old paint and had to work around it to fix these pieces.  This took quite a bit of extra time but it left me with a better surface to paint on.
     I then decided that for this particular project that the Gallery Glass products would be the best choice for me to use.
This turned out to be a good decision because after I had painted the roses red like someone had
previously, I found out that the "Tudor Rose" was actually a combination of white and red petals. 

     This particular renaissance faire is supposed to take place during the Tudor period, so I needed to correct the color of the roses to reflect the correct time period.   I easily removed the red color and repainted the roses in the correct color combination.  Thankfully I had used the Gallery Glass product and it did peel off which gave me the opportunity to make the needed changes. Here is what it looked like, once I painted them the correct color.
A close up of the Tudor Rose.

After I finished painting the windows, I sealed the work with an appropriate UV protecting product.  The cost of using the Gallery Glass products was far more cost effective than the other glass painting products that I found at the art supply store.  Especially, since the UV protecting product alone was over $25 for a two ounce jar and it took two jars to seal both windows properly.
   I also wanted to test the Gallery Glass product on a glass to see if I got the same results as with the plexiglass. My friend had a cool doggy door that was perfect to test the product out on.
 I decided to test out the Gallery Glass leading blanks out too that I had picked up some at a local craft yard sale.

These are so easy to use and save an amazing amount of time because you do not have to wait for the faux leading liquid to dry. You just take them out of the package and apply them to a clean smooth surface.

Then I added some of the instant leading straight lines.  Then I filled in the lines with the Gallery Glass product.  Gallery Glass recently painted on glass surface is opaque until it dries.
This is how it looks once it is dry.  You can see how much more translucent it becomes.


Folk Art Enamels on Glass
  • Gallery Glass is not permanent, so if at a later time you change your mind or need to make changes you can.
  • The Gallery Glass material is self leveling but can also be played with to create different textures on glass and plexiglass surfaces.
  • The Gallery Glass liquid leading in silver and gold had a runny texture that made it difficult to work with.  I found that using the black and painting it with outdoor metallic paint (after it had dried) worked better than trying to use the metallic colored liquid leading product.  Then I sealed it with a UV Sealant to further protect it.
  • Folk Art enamels are permanent and good for projects like drink ware (like wine glasses) and ceramics. Just be sure to paint surfaces that will not come in contact with your mouth.
  • Gallery Glass is not permanent and if the project is going to displayed outdoors, you will need a sealant to protect the project otherwise it will be affected by the weather and sun.

Folk Art Enamel on Ceramic
5.21.13:  Just a quick update, I ended up restoring six more windows for the local Renaissance Faire.  So far they have held up really well. This is the second year they have been on display at the Renaissance Faire.  During the 7 week run of faire the windows are exposed to extreme heat during the day, cold temperatures at night, sand storms, and rain.  The UV Sealant was worth the expense, because they look great.  I think it helped protect the Gallery Glass product on those windows.

For those of you who are fans of miniature and 1" scale work, I am including these photo's taken by Artist Jerry Hooker of his miniature stain glass windows that he makes using a similar product.

These particular windows are done in miniature inside of a repurposed antique victrola.

Other than the stairway spindles and one or two  of the miniature furniture pieces,

 everything else is made by Jerry Hooker. These are quite beautiful, especially

considering the amount of work it takes to create such detailed windows in this scale.

This also shows the versatility of these types of materials when applied to projects in different sizes.  Thank you to Jerry Hooker for sharing these pictures of your amazing work.

Update (6/3/2013) For those of you who live in really extreme environments and are having problems with the Gallary Glass sticking to your glass, I found another product that might work.  I must first remind you that you can just gently peel off your Gallary Glass design, clean the window and remove any film, chemicals or dust that may be on them.  Then re-apply your finished design onto the clean surface.  I did try a different product to paint some small acrylic pieces with a product called the Klutz Press Window Art Deluxe Paint Set.    I live near the beach and have to contend with fog and really humid days.  I have had good results with both this product.  The Klutz Paint tubes are much smaller than the Plaid product, so plan accordingly.  Additionally, the Klutz Paint tubes are geared for use by children and their color pallete reflects this with some very vibrant colors.  I found their bright colors are great for floral designs.  It is pretty easy to incorporate the more neon colors into flower or bird designs to brighten them.  Plus the light shines through quite nicely with the neon collection.

Update 3/5/17:
I can not recommend the Klutz Press Window Paints anymore.  In extreme heat 105 degrees and 70% humidity, it starts to melt.  The worst part is trying to remove the Klutz Window Paints from acrylic.  The paint melted and moved around the acrylic window but would not come off the acrylic easily. I had to use various tools to try to remove it.  The Plaid Gallery Glass is so much easier to remove.